Ask Matt: ‘Housewife’s New Daughter, ‘Young Sheldon,’ ‘Superstore,’ ‘This Is Us’ Twist & More
Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic — also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist” — Matt Roush, who’ll try to address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. (We know background music is too loud, but there’s always closed-captioning.)
One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Look for Ask Matt columns on many Tuesdays and Fridays.
She’s Like a Different Child Entirely!
Question: I was wondering why on American Housewife they changed the actress playing Anna-Kat after five seasons? Was it to age the character? At the end of last season, the parents were thinking that the kids were growing up and Anna-Kat had gotten older from the first season when they imagined the children coming down the stairs and when they came down in the current year. — Stanley
Matt Roush: This had nothing to do with creative differences or seeking to go in the proverbial “new direction,” and for once, when someone says they’re leaving to “pursue other opportunities,” they mean it. What happened is that Julia Butters, the original Anna-Kat, made a huge impression on critics and the industry at large with her scene-stealing role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood as (what else) a precocious child actor. This truly breakthrough performance has made her suddenly in demand, and the ABC Signature studio, which produces Housewife, graciously granted her request to leave. Enter Giselle Eisenberg as the new Anna-Kat.
Daddy and Bedroom Issues on Young Sheldon
Question: I didn’t watch The Big Bang Theory while it was on the air. I’ve been a fan of Young Sheldon from day one, though. Because of Young Sheldon, I decided to watch TBBT on HBO Max. I’m really glad I did! This may be the funniest sitcom I’ve ever seen, after American Housewife. I have a problem with it, though. There are many inconsistencies between the two shows. On Big Bang, Sheldon often talks about what a drunk his father was. He makes him seem like a neglectful parent. He said his dad died when he was 14 years old. On Young Sheldon, George Cooper is a loving, caring parent with a good job who takes care of his family. How do the writers explain the difference between Big Bang‘s George Cooper and Young Sheldon‘s’ George Cooper? Will they kill him off when Sheldon reaches 14? (Not to mention Young Sheldon‘s mother not being anywhere near the zealot Sheldon makes her out to be on The Big Bang Theory.) — Mark
Matt Roush: From the beginning, Chuck Lorre and other producers have maintained there’s more to George Cooper than the version we heard about from Big Bang‘s Sheldon, making the adult version something of an unreliable narrator, which isn’t out of character for someone who sees life in such extremes. The humanizing of George through Lance Barber is one of Young Sheldon‘s best assets, also the softening of Mary (Zoey Perry), all of which fits a more realistic and nostalgic single-camera comedy than the broad strokes of a multi-cam sitcom. Regarding George’s fate, that too might not happen exactly as Sheldon remembers it, but how they’ll eventually deal with that tragedy remains to be seen.
Question: Just curious if anyone on Young Sheldon thinks its about time Sheldon and his sister have separate bedrooms? Can’t he move in with his older brother? Curious minds want to know. — Virginia
Matt Roush: If Thursday’s season premiere is any indication, this won’t happen any time soon. The scenes between Iain Armitage (Sheldon) and Raegan Revord (Missy) are often some of the best and most revealing in any episode, and that’s certainly the case this week as each approaches graduation: Sheldon from high school and Missy from elementary. Besides, this is a boy who resists change, and while he and his twin are very different, the prospect of moving in with a rowdy character like Georgie (Montana Jordan) would likely paralyze him. Should the oldest child someday move out of the house, that’s another story.
A Shopper’s Delight, and a Jarring Twist
Comment and Question: I have to open with a big shout-out to the season premiere of Superstore, which I think does not get enough credit for how funny it is. It gave us a quite realistic depiction of how society is in the time of covid by allowing us to laugh at ourselves, and how we acted toward things like toilet paper and cleaning supplies and still do to this day. By the way, some of the funnier scenes are when they pan the store to see what customers are doing, and they have taken on some problems in current society such as when they did an episode on health care and starting their own buy in-pool to disastrous results. I will extremely miss America Ferrera, though.
Secondly, as far as This Is Us: Could that last scene possibly be a jump-the-shark moment? Come on, Randall’s mother all of a sudden gets a pulse after husband and child conveniently leave? Your thoughts would be appreciated. — JV
Matt Roush: Agreed on Superstore, a sleeper that has grown on me over the seasons and which delivered some very strong episodes with its opening two-parter (this week’s is the 100th). I’ve often found the quick cut-away vignettes to be among the most amusing parts of the series, and these covid-era moments find welcome humor during a troubling time. I also agree that the departure of America Ferrera is a major loss, but one they handle gracefully in Thursday’s episode.
As for This Is Us, pardon me while I sigh at the whole “jump the shark” impulse. Jaw-dropping curveballs are built into the show’s DNA, and while this one is especially puzzling — not so much that Randall’s birth mother didn’t die of that overdose, but that no one made the connection, AGAIN, over all these years — I’ll suspend disbelief for a while, as will most fans, to see where they take this. I’m happy enough to have the show back that I’m not going to attack it for dropping the sort of bombshell for which the show has been known from the very first episode.
The Hallmark Shuffle
Question: I’ve noticed that the listings for Hallmark and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries aren’t corresponding with what the channels are now showing. Particularly that the HM&M movies, originally scheduled at 9/8c, are now listed on screen as airing at 10/9c. I am sorry to see that Hallmark is changing times, which is inconvenient in the Central time zone that has late news at 10 pm/CT. Just wondering why the change qnd which one to believe. — John W
Matt Roush: I consulted my in-house Hallmark expert to confirm this, and it’s true that while as in past years, it had been announced that the new Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movies were airing just an hour apart (Hallmark at 8/7c and HM&M at 9/8c), that has now changed to a 10 pm/9c start date for the HM&M Christmas originals. Nearly every year, I’ve fielded complaints from viewers about the overlap, having to choose between the last hour of one movie and the first hour of the second (from those unable to record both or either), and this move appears to be the logical fix, not to start one new movie until the other on the opposite channel has finished. An even more logical move, if you ask me, would have been to start one at 7/6c and the other at 9/8c, because staying up till midnight/ET to finish a Hallmark movie seems an awfully big ask.
And Finally …
Question: How can I see the first two seasons of Yellowstone? — NL
Matt Roush: The relatively new Peacock streaming service is your best bet for watching the first two seasons of Paramount Network’s hit contemporary Western. The third season will be able on Peacock starting Nov. 22.
That’s all for now. Thanks as always for reading, and remember that I can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. Please include a first name with your question.